The partial government shutdown may stop the public buses in Hinesville, at least temporarily, said City Manager Billy Edwards during a discussion of an information item added to the city council meeting agenda Thursday. Edwards offered a report called annual appropriations impact summary that noted possible affects of the current federal government shutdown.
“The good news is we anticipate zero impact on the city for reimbursement requests with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Community Affairs,” Edwards said. “However, there may be a problem with pending reimbursement and subsequent reimbursements with the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation. The real impact is going forward if this government shutdown continues.”
Edwards said the DOJ approved a grant in 2010 that enabled the city to hire four police officers. The total salary for them is $72,764, he said. The city is currently pending a reimbursement from the federal government for $43,368.71, which he anticipates receiving. He reiterated, however, that future reimbursements are doubtful if the shutdown continues.
Reimbursements for the DOT grant that enabled the city to start and operate the Liberty Transit System are a greater concern, said Edwards. He said pending reimbursement requests totaling $294,922 will not be processed until the annual appropriations are authorized by Congress.
“How long can we operate the transit system while we’re sitting here waiting?” Councilman Keith Jenkins asked. “That is, how long can we operate it without borrowing any money?”
Neither Edwards nor Mayor Jim Thomas were willing to respond with a date. Thomas said he thought it was better to report back weekly about the transit system, and if the shutdown continues through the next council meeting Oct. 17, they will discuss the issue again then.
Thursday’s meeting might have otherwise been relatively short with only a few action items considered and approved. One of the action items was another issue added by Edwards, a request for the city to contract with the Liberty County Board of Elections for a Nov. 5 special election. Hinesville residents will vote on Sunday package sales of alcohol and residents just west of the city will decide if they want to be annexed into the city.
The council also approved a proposed new ordinance regulating internet gaming/sweepstakes, and a request to buy two lawnmowers.
An information item about the city’s annual zoning map was presented to the council for their review, and there was a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget.
During his comments, the mayor reported getting a call from Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, 3rd Infantry Division commander, about traffic delays Tuesday morning, the first day of the government shutdown. He said Murray had ordered military police to man the other gates until the shutdown was over in order to prevent other traffic delays in Hinesville.